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Global Guide

Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite (Legal Networks) — Global-wide

Overview

GLOBAL LAW FIRM NETWORKS: An Introduction to Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite Orlando J Casares

The year of technological clatter.

And there will be wars and rumours of wars... but be not troubled… for the end is not yet.

There is an unseen war of sorts being fought in the legal industry. A bit dramatic some might say. You be the judge.

The General Counsel is leading the charge with her ever-so-assertive in-house legal team and is unleashing an onslaught of demands and requirements from its legal service providers, the likes of which have never been seen before in the industry (e.g. freebies before engagement, alternative billing, eradication of hourly rates, spreading risk of payment on factors besetting the client’s own industry such as oil prices at certain levels, valuation of stock, valuation of profitability as reported in the books, unprecedented low annual retainers offered as legal insurance (regardless of time spent) to cover every need of corporate clients, including litigation, etc).

Big law firms are not just taking it but are pushing back. As discussed in the overview I wrote in last year’s edition of Chambers Global, the avalanche of mergers and combinations among law firms seen during the past couple of years has continued relentlessly. The mega law firms continue to wield their power and influence and keep getting stronger. In many cases, their over a thousand dollar/euro hourly rates do not seem to be under attack, so they like to argue.

Perhaps nowhere is this battle going to be felt more than by the unsettling clatter technology is making across the industry. One barometer to look at is the number of IT companies venturing into the legal market, as seen by the growing number of start-ups and other more renowned IT companies offering their technology services at the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) annual get-together where FLI and a number of law firms as well as other networks attend as sponsors regularly.

Among the services on offer the following are just a few worth considering:

Software includes features such as legal calendaring, legal workflow processing based on court rules, time tracking, billing and invoicing, payroll processing, law firm accounting and law firm trust accounting; others include features such as a contact manager, a customer relationship manager, time tracking and document management capabilities as well as introducing the client to a list of certified consultants who can help provide additional support for their IT-business model.

Other services include billing software for any company but which has an industry-specific legal edition for attorneys, as well as the American Bar Association (ABA) Task Codes, conflict of interest checking, trust accounting and trust reporting. Then there is legal practice management software that works with Microsoft Outlook, designed to organise one’s law firm’s Outlook email, calendar, contacts and tasks by client or project. This service allows attorneys to track and organise documents, phone calls, time and billing and other law firm practice information using Outlook; other software offers legal practice management targeted to law firms that seek a single integrated IT solution to run both Mac and Windows operating systems so that client management, email management, invoicing, trust accounting and customisable workflow automation can be provided to the attorneys working under the same roof. These services can now be offered as a desktop version or cloud-based solution. And the list goes on. By the time you, the reader of this overview, finish reading, there will be a number of other hopeful entrants to the industry hoping yet again to disrupt the market.

While this remains relatively early days, and thus the risk for failure for misusing the technology may render a firm vulnerable to claims over legal malpractice if items are missed and not caught by the evolving IT suite of services on offer, an element in the clatter becoming louder and louder is the recent focus by outside funding (some by non-lawyers) such as venture capital investment in legal technologies. This interesting development will bring an increased pressure from clients for firms to utilise those tools to optimise the delivery of the service and yes, reduce costs. It stands to reason that firms unable (or unwilling) to keep current with the advances in technology will experience loss of market share from clients who see a value to be gained from the use of technology. Firms will have to weigh the costs of these new services against the risk of clients going to a firm or network of law firms, as may be the case, that already has such capabilities.

Savvy outside investors are starting to eye a potentially colossal opportunity with substantial returns. The market is now seeing a small (but very well-funded) number of companies offering to bank-roll up front high-end litigation costs for lawsuits with a strong likelihood of successful outcomes but for the lack of funds.

So while there will continue to be external forces investing and looking to invest in our industry, from within the office of the GC, the in-house legal team will continue to push for technological enhancement to manage workflows for their internal matters. Matter management and workflow will follow the path of legal spend management and analytics. The previously unchallenged legal providers who had been acting for this or that client for decades will find themselves in uncharted territory. As in-house counsel gains greater access to a new and expanded set of rich data to track trends, law firms will have to demonstrate value through easily translated measurements. The insatiable appetite of the GC for intelligent data from which to precisely measure better results which in turn will require additional, faster, more precise data from which to measure yet even better results, is here to stay.

Internal process efficiency to manage resources will be applied with the same degree of emphasis as it is for legal spend, in order to keep in-house teams on target. This degree of precision will be expected from their outside legal providers. For many law firms whose compasses have not found this technology-breakthrough’s true north, they will be lost and left behind. No one is immune, but fear not and be of good cheer for the end is not yet. We shall see together how our industry unfolds amidst these challenges.

Article contributed by Orlando J Casares

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 57

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 41

About this network: This network brings together well-established, full-service firms across the world and is run through offices in Brussels and Houston. Members are carefully vetted and collectively cover over 75 countries worldwide, handling a range of mandates from general corporate and commercial advice to tax, employment, finance, real estate, data protection and IP law. Clients similarly hail from a multitude of sectors requiring cross-border and international support. Level of service is maintained through regular training and a general conference is organised twice a year for members and clients to network and share information. Orlando Casares is a key contact.

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 80

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 59

About this network: Interlaw's presence in 133 cities worldwide allows the network to offer clients a truly global platform. Member firms band together in business teams and affinity groups to offer clients from a variety of industries multi-jurisdictional support. Co-operation and personal relationships between the firms are fostered through regular meetings and secondment programmes, while consistently high quality is ensured by an extensive selection process and triennial reviews. Clients attest to the uniformity of service, for example stating: "In each case, I found the right person, received an immediate response to my initial request, and found that entering into the engagement terms with each firm was easy." Michael Siebold is chair of the network and a key contact.

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 48

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 41

About this network: The Interlex Group was founded in 1973 and provides full-service coverage in 59 countries around the world through its network of 48 highly respected members. The network abides by a strict acceptance and quality review policy and places a strong focus on the personal relationships between member firms. Members hail from the Americas, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East, while a close, informal relationship with Lex Africa helps ensure support there too. The group comes together at yearly and regional meetings as well as through collaborative projects and secondment programmes. President Larry Swibel is a key contact at the network. 

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 152

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 147

About this network: With proven experience in over 100 countries worldwide, Lex Mundi is one of the most well-known law firm networks. Member firms provide well-established, full-service offerings in their local markets and work together on multi-jurisdictional cross-border mandates across most major practice areas. The quality of each member's service is kept high by regular reviews, meetings, training and the feedback of a Client Advisory Council. Carl Anduri is president of the network and a key contact.

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 170

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 95

About this network: Meritas has earned a strong reputation in the market for the full-service coverage it provides in 81 countries worldwide. It has a quality assurance programme which gathers feedback from both referring firms and clients and awards each member a 'satisfaction index', thus aiming to keep standards high throughout the network. Co-operation is further bolstered by the network's regional directors, who co-ordinate members' cross-border efforts, and by regular global, regional and practice group meetings. Meritas is also very active in a number of initiatives aimed at younger lawyers within the alliance. Observers say: "Meritas has picked, across jurisdictions, some of the best firms." President and CEO Tanna Moore is a key contact.

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 78

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 55

About this network: This network brings together high-quality firms across the globe to offer full-service support to clients in a wide range of industry sectors. Client needs are central to Multilaw's approach, with a number of client-facing events and project management technology ensuring members collaborate effectively across jurisdictions. Referrals are tracked through a bespoke system, but the network also pitches for work as an organisation. The Multilaw Academy provides excellent training opportunities to the network's junior members. Executive director Adam Cooke is a key contact.

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 160

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 101

About this network: TAGLaw is a network of full-service firms based in most major jurisdictions around the world. Fellow members of the TAG Alliances, The International Accounting Group and TAG Strategic Partners are an added asset for members and clients of the network. Members are encouraged to collaborate through a variety of programmes and events, including two international conferences, regular regional meetings, networking events and the TAG Academy, a training course for young lawyers. Executive director Chris Cervellera is a key client contact, while Richard Attisha is the network's president.

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 137

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 112

About this network: This extensive network spans 100 countries worldwide. It provides full-service assistance to clients through its 16 practice groups, made up of thoroughly vetted and well-established firms. Members meet regularly at global, regional and practice group events. The network is also active in the in-house counsel space, and regularly sponsors related events. Tim Shannon is a key contact on the business development side, while Harry Trueheart is the network's chairman.

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 49

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 46

About this network: The World Law Group was established in 1988 and has since developed into a network of full-service firms in over 70 countries around the world. Members frequently collaborate on multi-jurisdictional mandates and group together into specialised practice and industry groups to better address clients' needs. The network operates an ongoing member review process and tracks referrals to ensure its high standards are maintained. Members are also required to attend one of two yearly events aimed at encouraging knowledge exchange and multi-country collaboration. Shelley Boyes is a key contact at the network.

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Leading Law Firm Networks: The Elite - Global-wide

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From the Chambers Global guide

Number of member firms: 114

Number of firms ranked in Chambers guides: 109

About this network: This multidisciplinary network incorporates legal, investment banking and accounting professionals in many jurisdictions. Each member is thoroughly vetted to ensure a high level of service and seamless representation for referred clients. The network places a great degree of importance on co-operation and knowledge sharing among members and hosts regular events around the globe to encourage strong relationships. To better address the needs of clients, members also band together in industry, practice and specialty groups. A number of online resources and tools are also made available to both members and clients. Maricarmen Trujillo is the network's COO and a key contact.

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We do not rank lawyers for this territory and specialism but we rank networks.